This has been a much requested blogpost so hopefully this will give you some ideas when working with an SNA. I have been fortunate to work with a lot of brilliant SNA’s in the past and I will have a full time SNA this year (We don’t find out who our SNA will be until we go back in September though).
While working in England, I often had between 3 and 5 additional adults in the room – some of these adults were parents of children in the class but I also had a teaching assistant and one or sometimes two SNA’s – to be honest I found this quite challenging as there was too many adults in the same room and the children found it very confusing too.
Benefits of working with an SNA
- Supporting children with additional needs – without SNA’s children with additional needs would really struggle in mainstream classes and in a lot of classes be unable to attend a mainstream school. SNA’s are vital for inclusion and support for these children in the classroom.
- Extra pair of eyes and ears
- Extra adult – children need attention and with a class of nearly 30 (if not more) children the class teacher is not always available to tie a shoe lace or open a lunch box. The SNA supports and assists all the children in the class (not just the child they are assigned to).
- Extra pair of hands – the SNA’s that I’ve worked with are more than happy to help with displays, laminating, photocopying etc. This is a godsend when you are missing something or need something quickly.
- Supervision – fantastic for support on school tours. It’s brilliant to have 2 adults who know the class well. This is also really helpful if you are out sick/ on a course day as the SNA can support the supervising/substitute teacher as she/he knows the class really well.
- Different opinions/ideas – This can be tricky as the SNA works closely with a child with additional needs and they may have a different approach or opinion on how to do things with the child. As the class teacher every child in the class is your ultimate responsibility so you have to make the decision on how best to support each child (even if they have an SNA) however, I think its really important to take the opinion and ideas of the SNA on board to ensure that the child is supported to reach their full potential.
- Self conscious – this is something that I found tricky at the beginning when working with another adult. I was constantly thinking about what I was saying and how I was saying it and if I was doing things right. I soon realised that the SNA is too busy focussing on the child they are supporting or helping other children in the classroom.
- Parents – this can be a little bit tricky because if there is an issue, the parents of the child with additional needs may go to the SNA rather than the teacher. (Obviously this works well with certain things but schoolwork/ behaviour/ interactions with other children should all be communicated by the parent to the teacher)
Things that have worked well for me
- Build up a positive relationship – its really important to start the year on the right foot as you will be working closely with your SNA. Have a chat about the child and how best to support them in the classroom and any other jobs that the SNA might be happy to help with.
- Keep them involved – Personally, I feel that the SNA should be at meetings with the SEN teacher and the childs parents so everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.
- Basket- I had a little basket with photocopying/laminating that needed to be done and if the SNA had a free minute they liked doing this. (Any SNA I have worked with wanted to be kept busy and enjoyed laminating and creating displays)
- Be open to different opinions and ideas
Overall, I love working with an SNA and there are benefits for everyone involved – the child, the teacher and the class as a whole.
- As I Am – the Role of SNA’s
- SESS – Role of SNA
- NCSE – SNA Scheme
- Being Educated in a mainstream school hugely benefits children with Special Needs (Independent.ie)
- Helping Children reach their full potential (Examiner)